Chinese engineers test world’s first boring-and-blasting machine

A conventional TBM can struggle with complex geological conditions. This one was used to dig the Sydney metro (John Cowper/CC BY 2.0)
Engineers at Tsinghua University in Beijing and China Railway Science and Industry Group have developed a prototype tunnel boring machine (TBM) that also blasts rock.

The unit has passed tunnelling tests under three conditions and is now set to enter the “promotion and application” phase, Global Times reports.

TBMs are usually used as an alternative to blasting.

A boring and blasting machine could be more versatile when dealing with mixed and complex ground conditions.

The tests showed that the efficiency of tunnelling through hard igneous and metamorphic rock can be increased by 30% when explosives are used to split the strata before they meet the TBM’s blades.

Chen Jiale, a Wuhan-based researcher with China Railway Science, said the machine could “help meet construction challenges in large tunnel projects, providing a new solution for tunnel construction”.

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